A former Fairfax County prosecutor is the first Asian American woman to become a judge in Virginia.

Maha-Rebekah Abejuela, 38, officially took her seat on the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court on Friday after the state legislature voted to elevate her to the position in January.

Abejuela, who is the daughter of Filipino immigrants, most recently worked as an assistant Fairfax County attorney representing the Department of Family Services in abuse and neglect cases involving children and incapacitated adults.

She previously spent five years prosecuting misdemeanors and felonies as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Fairfax County, specializing in domestic violence cases for most of her time.

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Abejuela said seeing juvenile court judges up close inspired her to want to be one.

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“They were in a position to affect children and families at the most critical parts of their lives,” Abejuela said. “I wanted to be part of that.”

Abejuela has also worked for the Legal Services of Northern Virginia and the Potomac Legal Aid Society, focusing on foreclosures and domestic violence-related family law cases. She graduated from Villanova’s law school and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia.

Jonathan Phillips, a defense attorney and former Fairfax County prosecutor who worked with Abejuela, said she is a well-respected member of the local legal community. She refers to juvenile court as her “home” because she has spent so much time there over the years. Phillips said her appointment as a judge there is fitting.

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“The singular attention she gave those families in juvenile court really inspired a sense of trust,” Phillips said.

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Northern Virginia legislators have been pushing to diversify the bench in Fairfax County in recent years. Earlier this year, Dontaé L. Bugg became the first African American elevated to the Fairfax County Circuit Court in nearly a quarter-century.